TRENTON, N.J. – New Jersey residents who have traditionally used oddshark.com to view betting odds and learn about offshore sportsbooks were in for a rude awakening this week. With a letter sent to one of the site’s key executives, New Jersey Attorney General Anthony Strangia blocked the site from the state.
The letter was sent to the company for their use of links to both legal and overseas online betting sites. The site failed to address which promoted sites were authorized by the state of N.J. and which ones weren’t, putting residents at risk of breaking the law.
The letter was also sent to the online sports wagering sites approved by the state because of their affiliation with the site.
“By copy of this letter, the Division is instructing all New Jersey casinos and internet gaming providers that they must cease doing all business with OddsShark.com, regardless of whether the platforms are promoting their New Jersey Activity or activity in other jurisdictions,” Strangia wrote.
The letter then went on to read “The State of New Jersey reserves the right to pursue appropriate civil or criminal sanction against you if you fail to take the requested actions.”
The sportsbook promoter has often been referenced by credible media sources such as Bleacher Report and Sports Illustrated, which has made the site gain legitimacy over the years.
It’s because of this reputation that many are questioning whether or not the Attorney General’s threats can even be acted upon.
Does The Threat Have Any Legal Merit?
When reading over the letter, it is important to understand where it was sent. The letter was addressed to Kostakis Konstantinou in the British territory of Gibraltar.
According to DS285, a dispute settled by the World Trade Organization between the United States and the country of Antigua, the US was found to have no jurisdiction over whether or not an online gambling business in another country can accept US players. The US is also not able to stop other countries from using American trademarks.
This means that the offshore sportsbooks promoted on OddsShark are free from US government authority. One could argue that the same ruling would apply to OddsShark since their headquarters is located in a different country as well.
As for the casinos located inside of N.J., their affiliation with the site could also be questioned. Because of the ruling of the dispute, OddsShark can use their logos and promotional materials without the consent of the casino.
This would make it difficult for the Attorney General to prove any previous partnership between a N.J. gaming establishment and OddsShark.
The letter also fails to mention the issue of Net Neutrality in the United States. While countries such as China can have their internet service providers block certain sites like Google and Facebook, internet providers in the US can’t.
Still, even with all of these factors, OddsShark felt the need to avoid any legal arguments and instead block access to anyone trying using their site for learning about sports betting in New Jersey.
How Long Will This Shutdown Last?
While this shutdown is the first of its kind in New Jersey, similar types of Attorney General requests have been made in other states with no long-standing severity.
For example, in 2016 Ken Paxton, Attorney General of Texas, issued an opinion stating that daily fantasy sports were illegal in his state. At first, sites such as FanDuel and DraftKings stopped accepting players from Texas.
However, those same sites continued to operate there only a few months after the opinion was released and saw no legal penalties for doing so.
There is also the case of New York and Bovada. New York gambling laws prohibit online sports betting sites from operating in the state, which is why Bovada left that market for a few years. But, last year Bovada began to accept players from the state and have yet to face any legal consequences as well.
There is no telling how long OddsShark will hold out of New Jersey, but based on how other states have handled online betting sites, there is a chance it won’t be forever.